News, Updates & Resources for the Region
Sponsor Highlight: Population Health and the University of Washington's Contributions to the Fight against COVID-19
This article is a submission by PNWER sponsor, University of Washington, and does not necessarily reflect the views of PNWER.
When the University of Washington launched the Population Health Initiative nearly four years ago, it was necessary to explain the importance of studying the intersecting and overlapping factors that influence health and well-being both here and around the world. The Initiative’s cross-disciplinary approach to problem-solving was unusual in a university setting, encouraging researchers to collaborate on projects across traditional departmental boundaries. Today, the relevance of this work could not be more obvious.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on how profoundly important scientific expertise and data are for helping policymakers, business leaders and citizens understand both the scale of the pandemic and the response necessary to address it. From developing treatments and caring for patients to researching the virus and combating misinformation, UW faculty, staff and students are playing an integral role in the global response to COVID-19.
Outstanding work is happening across our university to attack the problem from every angle. Our medical system staff are on the front lines providing extraordinary care to our community. UW researchers have sequenced COVID-19’s genome, identified the architecture and mechanisms of COVID-19, created a new laboratory test to expedite diagnostics, are testing potential treatments, built models to forecast the outbreak’s severity, and are crowd-sourcing a cure. Others are working to slow the viral spread of misinformation about COVID-19, 3D print face shields for hospital staff, locate and donate personal protective equipment, help monitor and understand the emotional impacts of self-isolation and provide resources to families whose kids are suddenly home 24/7. Public health experts are consulting with local governments and businesses about how to safely reopen when the time comes. Faculty and students are showing boundless creativity and compassion as they transition to online learning. Virology researchers are developing and processing antibody tests, computer science experts are developing a contact-tracing app. And the list goes on.
The University of Washington and UW Medicine are proud to serve our community and State as we take on COVID-19. This work would not be possible without support from the state of Washington, the federal government and the private contributions of so many generous individuals.
It is important to note that by its very definition, population health reminds us that the efforts of UW Medicine and the University of Washington are not in isolation – our work is interconnected with the herculean efforts of leaders in every sector of our economy and community. Daily, we are seeing the bravery of frontline essential workers, the tireless advocacy of community leaders and the sacrifice of those who are keeping their businesses closed and staying home. Thank you for all that you are doing personally and professionally to continue to reduce the spread and burden of COVID-19.
In our region, the curve may be flattening, but we are still a long way from the finish line. From improving testing availability and contact tracing capacity, continued therapeutic and vaccine research, and understanding the safest and most equitable ways to reopen the economy, there is still much more work to be done to beat this disease. The University of Washington will continue to serve the community and State as we weather COVID-19 and beyond. By standing together – while physically apart – our communities will defeat this virus and recover from its devastating effects.